Joining Forces is excited to welcome our new Data Intern Qurat-ul-ain ("Qurat") Haider to the team! Qurat comes to us as part of an internship program at UIC, where she is a Fulbright Scholar studying to earn her master's degree in urban planning and policy. She earned her bachelor's degree in law at the University of Punjab, Pakistan.
Born and raised in Pakistan, Qurat has a strong connection with her community. Her passion for civil service started with her work with children who were born in the prison system. She supported them with their needs, particularly with enrolling into school. She was also an enrollment counselor at a youth camp. Both of these roles she did without being a member of an organization or program!
In 2017, Qurat was chosen to be a civil servant for the government - one of only 100 student chosen to do so. She started by working as a Transportation Officer with state and federal governments for their train operating systems. She verified that the train station adhered to opening and closing rules, regulations and safety protocols. She also ensured that all the trains operated on schedule.
Her experience as a Transportation Officer was particularly highlighted by her identity as a woman in India. "When I was back in Pakistan it was all men [in positions of power]. They would say, 'Oh she’s just a girl,'" she said, further noting that, "Most of the time they were under me in rank." She wants to continue to push the boundaries of gender roles in her culture, and hopes to learn more about urban planning and community engagement in her time here in the United States.
As a Fulbright scholar - a prestigious and rigorous academic fellowship - Qurat is able to earn her master's degree here in Chicago! When asked why she chose Connections for her internship, she said that affordable housing was critical in urban planning and that Connections was the right choice because of our focus on it. The problem of homeless wasn’t something she expected to see to such a drastic extent in the U.S. "There’s so much cultural influence from the US in Pakistan and you don’t see the extent of the problems," she said. She wants to use her knowledge of urban planning tools to find patterns and details of homelessness by ward, by race/ethnicity, and by income status. She will work to research current data that can help further our case for affordable housing, particularly in our advocacy for the Margarita Inn. She hopes that data can help persuade people by showing them what works and what can be done to solve homelessness and increase affordable housing.
We're glad to have you as a part of the team, Qurat. We can't wait to see what amazing data work you are able to bring to the world of affordable housing advocacy!